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Hudson Taylor :: Abiding in Christ

November 22, 2010

This is a little long for a post. And please forgive the formatting errors from copying and pasting it here. Despite those 2 issues, this is well worth your time, especially if you desire to follow Christ and the striving to do so is wearying you. It is, as the title book goes, Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret.

FOURTEEN
THE EXCHANGED LIFE

Yes, in me, in me He dwelleth–
I in Him and He in me!
And my empty soul He filleth
Now and through eternity.
-H. Bonar

Six months after the foregoing letter was written, a junk
northward bound on the Grand Canal was carrying a passenger whose
heart overflowed with a great, new-found joy. Mr. Judd in Yangchow
was expecting the return of his friend and leader, but was hardly
prepared for the transformation which had taken place in the one he
knew so well. Scarcely waiting for greetings, Mr. Taylor plunged
into his story. In characteristic fashion — his hands behind his
back — he walked up and down the room exclaiming,
“Oh, Mr. Judd, God has made me a new man! God has made me a
new man!”
Wonderful was the experience that had come in answer to
prayer, yet so simple as almost to baffle description. It was
just as it was long ago, “Whereas I was blind, now I see!”
Amid a pile of letters awaiting Mr. Taylor in Chinkiang, had
been one from John McCarthy, written in the old home in Hangchow.
The glory of a great sunrise was upon him — the inward light whose
dawning makes all things new. To tell Mr. Taylor about it was his
longing, for he knew something of the exercise of soul through which
his friend was passing. But where to begin, how to put it into words
he knew not.
I do wish I could have a talk with you now [he
wrote], about the way of holiness. At the time you were
speaking to me about it, it was the subject of all others
occupying my thoughts, not from anything I had read … so
much as from a consciousness of failure — a constant falling
short of that which I felt should be aimed at; an unrest; a
perpetual striving to find some way by which one might
continually enjoy that communion, that fellowship, at times
so real but more often so visionary, so far off!…
Do you know, I now think that this striving, longing,
hoping for better days to come in not the true way to
holiness, happiness or usefulness. It is better, no doubt,
far better than being satisfied with poor attainments, but
not the best way after all. I have been struck with a passage
from a book … entitled CHRIST IS ALL. It says,
“The Lord Jesus received is holiness begun; the Lord
Jesus cherished is holiness advancing; the Lord Jesus
counted upon as never absent would be holiness complete. …
“He is most holy who has most of Christ within, and
joys most fully in the finished work. It is defective faith
which clogs the feet and causes many a fall.”
This last sentence, I think I now fully endorse. To
let my loving Savior work in me His will, my sanctification,
is what I would live for by His grace. Abiding, not striving
nor struggling; looking off unto Him; trusting Him for
present power; … resting in the love of an almighty Savior,
in the joy of a complete salvation, “from ALL sin” — this is
not new, and yet ’tis NEW TO ME. I feel as though the dawning
of a glorious day had risen upon me. I hail it with
trembling, yet with trust. I seem to have got to the edge
only, but of a boundless sea; to have sipped only, but of
that which fully satisfies. Christ literally ALL seems to me,
now, the power, the only power for service, the only ground
for unchanging joy. …

How then to have our faith increased? Only by
thinking of all that Jesus is and all He is for us: His life,
His death, His work, He Himself as revealed to us in the
Word, to be the subject of our constant thoughts. Not a
striving to have faith … but a looking off to the Faithful
One seems all we need; a resting in the Loved One entirely,
for time and for eternity.


We do not know just how the miracle was wrought; but, “As I
read, I saw it all,” Mr. Taylor wrote. “I looked to Jesus,
and when I saw — oh, how joy flowed!”
He was a joyous man now [Mr. Judd recorded], a
bright happy Christian. He had been a toiling, burdened one
before, with latterly not much rest of soul. It was resting
in Jesus now, and letting Him do the work — which makes all
the difference. Whenever he spoke in meetings after that, a
new power seemed to flow from him, and in the practical
things of life a new peace possessed him. Troubles did not
worry him as before. He cast everything on God in a new way,
and gave more time to prayer. Instead of working late at
night, he began to go to bed earlier, rising at 5 AM to give
time to Bible study and prayer (often two hours) before the
work of the day began.
It was THE EXCHANGED LIFE that had come to him — the life
that is indeed “No longer I.” Six months earlier he had written, “I
have continually to mourn that I follow at such a distance and learn
so slowly to imitate my precious Master.” There was no thought of
imitation now! It was in blessed reality “Christ liveth in me.” And
how great the difference! — instead of bondage, liberty; instead of
failure, quiet victories within; instead of fear and weakness, a
restful sense of sufficiency in Another. So great was the
deliverance, that from that time onward Mr. Taylor could never do
enough to help to make this precious secret plain to hungry hearts
wherever he might be. And there are so many hungry hearts that need
such help today that we venture to quote at length from one of his
first letters on the subject. It was to his sister, Mrs.
Broomhall, whose burdens with a family which grew to number ten
children were very real and pressing.
So many thanks for your dear, long letter. … I do
not think you have written me such a letter since our return
to China. I know it is with you as with me — you cannot —
not will not. Mind and body will not bear more than a
certain amount of strain, or do more than a certain amount of
work.
As to work — mine was never so plentiful, so
responsible or so difficult, but the weight and strain are
all GONE. The last month or more has been, perhaps, the
happiest of my life, and I long to tell you a little of what
the Lord has done for my soul. I do not know how far I may
be able to make myself intelligible about it, for there is
nothing new or strange or wonderful — and yet, all is
new!…
Perhaps I may make myself more clear if I go back a
little. Well, dearie, my mind has been greatly exercised for
six or eight months past, feeling the need personally and for
our Mission of more holiness, life, power in our souls. But
personal need stood first and was the greatest. I felt the
ingratitude, the danger, the sin of not living nearer to God.
I prayed, agonized, fasted, strove, made resolutions, read
the Word more diligently, sought more time for meditation —
but all without avail. Every day, almost every hour, the
consciousness of sin oppressed me.
I knew that if only I could abide in Christ all would
be well, but I could not. I would begin the day with prayer,
determined not to take my eye off Him for a moment,
but pressure of duties, sometimes very trying, and constant
interruptions apt to be so wearing, caused me to forget Him.
Then one’s nerves get so fretted in this climate that
temptations to irritability, hard thoughts and sometimes
unkind words are all the more difficult to control. Each day
brought its register of sin and failure, of lack of power.
To will was indeed “present with me,” but how to perform I
found not.
Then came the question, is there no rescue? Must it
be thus to the end — constant conflict, and too often
defeat? How could I preach with sincerity that, to those who
receive Jesus, “to them gave he power to become the sons of
God” (i.e., Godlike) when it was not so in my own
experience? Instead of growing stronger, I seemed to be
getting weaker and to have less power against sin; and no
wonder, for faith and even hope were getting low. I hated
myself, I hated my sin, yet gained no strength against it. I
felt I WAS a child of God. His Spirit in my heart would cry,
in spite of all, “Abba, Father.” But to rise to my privileges
as a child, I was utterly powerless.
I thought that holiness, practical holiness, was to
be gradually attained by a diligent use of the means of
grace. There was nothing I so much desired as holiness,
nothing I so much needed; but far from in any measure
attaining it, the more I strove after it, the more it eluded
my grasp, until hope itself almost died out, and I began to
think that — perhaps to make heaven the sweeter — God would
not give it down here. I do not think that I was
striving to attain it in my own strength. I knew I was
powerless. I told the Lord so, and asked Him to give me help
and strength. Sometimes I almost believed that He would keep
and uphold me; but on looking back in the evening — alas!
there was but sin and failure to confess and mourn before
God.
I would not give you the impression that this was the
only experience of those long, weary months. It was a too
frequent state of soul, and that towards which I was tending,
which almost ended in despair. And yet, never did Christ
seem more precious; a Savior who could and would save such a
sinner! … And sometimes there were seasons not only of
peace but of joy in the Lord; but they were transitory, and
at best there was a sad lack of power. Oh, how good the Lord
has been in bringing this conflict to an end!
All the time I felt assured that there was in Christ
all I needed, but the practical question was — how to get it
OUT. He was rich truly, but I was poor; He was strong, but I
weak. I knew full well that there was in the root, the stem,
abundant fatness, but how to get it into my puny little
branch was the question. As gradually light dawned, I saw
that faith was the only requisite — was the hand to lay hold
on His fullness and make it mine. But I had not this faith.
I strove for faith, but it would not come; I tried to
exercise it, but in vain. Seeing more and more the wondrous
supply of grace laid up in Jesus, the fullness of our
precious Savior, my guilt and helplessness seemed to
increase. Sins committed appeared but as trifles compared
with the sin of unbelief which was their cause, which
could not or would not take God at His word, but rather made
Him a liar! Unbelief was I felt THE damning sin of the world;
yet I indulged in it. I prayed for faith, but it came not.
What was I to do?
When my agony of soul was at its height, a sentence
in a letter from dear McCarthy was used to remove the scales
from my eyes, and the Spirit of God revealed to me the truth
of our ONENESS WITH JESUS as I had never know in before.
McCarthy, who had been much exercised by the same sense of
failure but saw the light before I did, wrote (I quote from
memory):

“But how to get faith strengthened? Not by striving
after faith, but by resting on the Faithful One.”

As I read, I saw it all! “If we believe not, he
abideth faithful.” I looked to Jesus and saw (and when I
saw, oh, how joy flowed!) that He had said, “I will never
leave thee.”
“Ah, THERE is rest!” I thought. “I have striven in
vain to rest in Him. I’ll strive no more. For has not HE
promised to abide with ME — never to leave me, never to fail
me?” And, dearie, HE NEVER WILL.
Nor was this all He showed me, nor one half. As I
thought of the Vine and the branches, what light the blessed
Spirit poured direct into my soul! How great seemed my
mistake in wishing to get the sap, the fullness OUT of Him!
I saw not only that Jesus will never leave me, but that I am
a member of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. The
vine is not the root merely, but ALL — root, stem,
branches, twigs, leaves, flowers, fruit. And Jesus is not
that alone — He is soil and sunshine, air and showers, and
ten thousand times more than we have ever dreamed, wished for
or needed. Oh, the joy of seeing this truth! I do pray that
the eyes of your understanding too may be enlightened, that
you may know and enjoy the riches freely given us in Christ.
Oh, my dear Sister, it is a wonderful thing to be
really one with a risen and exalted Savior, to be a member of
Christ! Think what it involves. Can Christ be rich and I
poor? Can your right hand be rich and your left poor? or
your head be well fed while your body starves? Again, think
of its bearing on prayer. Could a bank clerk say to a
customer, “It was only your hand, not you that wrote that
check”; or “I cannot pay this sum to your hand, but only to
yourself”? No more can your prayers or mine be discredited
if offered in the name of Jesus (i.e., not for the sake of
Jesus merely, but on the ground that we are His, His members)
so long as we keep within the limits of Christ’s credit — a
tolerably wide limit! If we ask for anything unscriptural,
or not in accordance with the will of God, Christ Himself
could not do that. But “if we ask any thing according to his
will … we know that we have the petitions that we desired
of him.”
The sweetest part, if one may speak of one part being
sweeter than another, is the rest which full identification
with Christ brings. I am no longer anxious about anything,
as I realize this; for He, I know, is able to carry out His
will, and His will is mine. It makes no matter where
He places me, or how. That is rather for Him to consider
than for me; for in the easiest position He must give me His
grace, and in the most difficult His grace is sufficient. It
little matters to my servant whether I send him to buy a few
cash worth of things, or the most expensive articles. In
either case he looks to me for the money and brings me his
purchases. So, if God should place me in serious perplexity,
must He not give much guidance; in positions of great
difficulty, much grace; in circumstances of great pressure
and trial, much strength? No fear that His resources will
prove unequal to the emergency! And His resources are mine,
for He is mine, and is with me and dwells in me.
And since Christ has thus dwelt in my heart by faith,
how happy I have been! I wish I could TELL you about it,
instead of writing. _I_ am no better than before. In a
sense, I do not wish to be, nor am I striving to be. But I
am dead and buried with Christ — ay, and risen too! — And
now Christ lives in me, and “the life that I now live in the
flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me
and gave himself for me.” …
And now I must close. I have not said half I would,
nor AS I would, had I more time. May God give you to lay
hold on these blessed truths. Do not let us continue to say,
in effect, “Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring
Christ down from above).” In other words, do not let us
consider Him as far off, when God has made us one with Him,
members of His very body. Nor should we look upon this
experience, these truths, as for the few. They are
the birthright of every child of God, and no one can dispense
with them without dishonoring our Lord. The only power for
deliverance from sin or for true service is CHRIST.
And it was all so simple and practical! — as the busy mother
found when she too entered into this rest of faith.
“But are you always conscious of abiding in Christ?” Mr.
Taylor was asked many years later.
“While sleeping last night,” he replied, “did I cease to
abide in your home because I was unconscious of the fact? We should
never be conscious of NOT abiding in Christ.”
I change, He changes not;
The Christ can never die:
His truth, not mine, the resting place;
His love, not mine, the tie.

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